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Statement on Creative Scotland's RFO Funding

Rapture would like to thank all those friends and colleagues from within the theatre sector, from venues and theatres and audience members who have sent us messages of support in the wake of Creative Scotland's (CS's) decision to omit us from its portfolio of Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) for 2018-2021. As a consequence of this decision, our CS funding as an RFO has been cut.

Rapture entered the RFO portfolio in 2015 and is the only fully funded theatre company in Scotland dedicated to touring traditional and contemporary classic plays to a wide range of venues throughout the country. Over the last three years we have provided development opportunities for performers, creatives and other theatre artists to work on some of the finest plays ever written.

Our productions are regularly critically acclaimed and we have a long track record of attracting the very best creatives, performers and writers to work with us. The removal of CS funding will leave Scotland without a fully funded theatre company solely dedicated to the production and touring of traditional and contemporary classic theatre. It will also mean that audiences in many areas of the country will no longer have access locally to our work.

Rapture has led the way in audience development for touring theatre and can boast that over 15,000 people watched our two touring productions in 2017. We also have an excellent track record in attracting new audiences to theatre. Additionally, recent research carried out by cultural analysts, Culture Republic, demonstrates that Rapture regularly attracts one of the most socially diverse audiences the agency has ever seen.

Audiences have always been at the heart of all we do. We have consistently consulted with audiences, sought their feedback and benefited from our close relationships with them. Their positivity about our work and loyalty towards our company still inspires us.

Rapture's unique "mixed scale" touring model ensures that audience members in small village halls have access to the same high quality, engaging productions as those attending city centre venues. Our long-term commitment has always been to enhance social inclusion and, along with our touring model, we regularly provide reduced price tickets, thus removing both geographical and financial barriers to attendance. These benefits will no longer be possible if CS funding is withdrawn.

Demand from theatres and venues for Rapture's work is always high and Rapture has worked with venues for almost two decades to develop new audiences for theatre, particularly in areas where there was formerly a lack of theatre provision. However, the significant increase in attendance we have experienced in recent years - which has had an impact on the entire sector - has been made possible because of the security and certainty created by the three-year funding we received from CS which has allowed us to plan ahead and engage with both audiences and venues well in advance. Without the continuity provided by long term funding, our ability to build on our achievements in audience engagement and development will be severely compromised.

Rapture regularly receives highly positive feedback for the education work it carries out with teachers, pupils and adult learners. In 2017, almost 5000 pupils engaged with our Creative Learning activities. Our educational support on key texts such as A Streetcar Named Desire was highly commended by the education sector and provided an invaluable resource to pupils and teachers, students and lecturers. This successful work was only possible because of the the long term funding we received from CS.

Creative Scotland's decision to cut our funding therefore seems irrational, particularly given that Rapture's achievements over the last three years were highly praised in CS's own assessment of our application for funding. Indeed CS's own assessor recommended that we should receive a 20% increase in funding as part of the initial assessment, describing our commitment to "access" as "outstanding". It was in the later stages of the process - "strategy planning" and what was referred to as "balancing the portfolio" - that the decision was made to stop funding us as an RFO.

Yet, the conclusions and recommendations of the recently published CS Review of Touring Theatre and Dance in Scotland, dovetail seamlessly with Rapture's aims, objectives and activities, making the funding cut seem even more inexplicable.

However, we appreciate Creative Scotland's offer of a 12 month "transitional funding" period, and look forward to meeting with representatives of the organisation to discuss the rationale behind their decision and to explore other funding options.

We would like to emphasise our support for our close Briggait friends Mischief La Bas and Fire Exit as well as other friends and colleagues who have lost their funding, especially those within the Disability and Children's Theatre sectors who are simliary affected in this funding round. We also wish the successful RFO applicants all the best for the next three years.

We also express our sincere gratitude to our friends in the media, and to the politicians, venues and audience members who responded to our 40 Days of Rapture campaign ahead of the recent Scottish Government Budget announcement. We will provide an update for you all, after we have met with Creative Scotland.

Please be assured that, although at the moment we are "reeling" and may be "down", we are certainly not "out".

Best regards,

Michael
(on behalf of all of those at Rapture Theatre)

 

 

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